Getting a Nine Year Old Pierced at a Tattoo Parlor

This post is nine years in the making.  This post also contains the video and pictures of Aurelia getting pierced.

A long long time ago, when dinosaurs roamed the earth…err wait.  No, not that long ago.  More like back when Aurelia was a baby.  So like 9 years ago not a hundred million years ago.  Anyway, so back when I first became a mother I started to tap into that mothering instinct thing that I based many parenting decisions on which so also happened to be back by research and shit.  One area that I had to make a decision about was ear piercing.

I’m not gonna lie, my first reaction was something along the lines of me not having any desire to clean and care for another area of her body that just really didn’t need to be cared for.  I was struggling enough with becoming a new mommy, moving from the upper portion of the US back down to Texas, trying to find a place to live, looking for job, and figuring it all out that I couldn’t imagine adding another thing to my plate.

I did more research over time to figure out why my instinct as a mother said abso-effing-no to ear piercing her as an infant.  After all, many parents do this, care for it just fine, don’t bat an eye, and everyone seems unfazed by it maybe because it is just such a common ritual practiced here.  Getting a baby girl’s ears pierced seemed as common and unmindful practice as infant male circumcision.  Why was I questioning this?

This was also the beginning of my research as to why I was starting to question every common and mainstream parenting choice.  I was curious why I was rebelling against the norm.  Something in me said, “What a minute.  Let’s think about this decision before we do it.  Why does our culture do this?  Is it necessary?  Is it helpful?”  I questioned everything from formula, diapers, food, pediatricians, household chemicals, baby sleep, pacifiers, etc.  (Note:  This was back in 2005 when I was so in the closet about my choices because they were NOT trendy like they are now and I got A LOT of criticism from family and friends so many things I just opted not to reveal about how we parented to avoid the ridicule and judgment about my ability as a mother.)

Back to ear piercing and tattoo parlors.  I did research on this.  Many many parents walk into a FREE EAR PIERCING WITH A THE PURCHASE OF EARRINGS type places that are full of glittery girly goo where the employee who is selling you bedazzled purses is also using a gun that’s been used and impossible to properly sanitize to pierce the revolving door of people who come to get a quick piercing.  It’s so common.  Everyone does it.  Plus there’s lots of glitter.  Who doesn’t trust glitter and sequins?!?!  These franchises have been around for awhile.  It must be safe.  I completely understand why it is trusted.  It’s easy to trust a brick and mortar brand name that’s been around for a while and you’ve not heard of them having lawsuits brought against them in the media.  And most of the time it turns out ok.  I mean you hear about the cases when it gets infected, the hole isn’t complete, a hole is off center, it has to be redone later on, etc.  But for the most part in the end it’s ok.

Of course me being me, I researched the alternative.  Having a professional piercer or pediatrician pierce a kid’s ears.  Years ago pediatricians used to pierce ears.  There seems to be a resurgence of this practice coming back into pediatrician’s offices.  There is the cost factor, wait time for an appt, and the unnecessary exposure to an unwell population for a piercing.  Also, if the nurses are the ones handing needles and poking holes in children when they give shots, why is a pediatrician the one putting holes in the ears?  Would a nurse be more qualified for this?  For me it seemed that when the time came, and only if my children wanted it, you see, for me it absolutely HAD to be their choice, we would find a professional piercer to do it.  (Each state varies on the certification requirements.)

When Aurelia was seven she started talking about maybe wanting to get her ears pierced.  We discussed it and I let her watch piercing videos of kids getting their ears pierced with a gun and kids getting pierced with a needle with a professional piercer.  Around age eight she gathered the courage to go.  We were out and about one day and drove by a tattoo and piercing place.  We walked in to ask questions about minors and this particular place did not pierce minors.  At the time I didn’t realize that there were places who wouldn’t pierce minors even with parental consent.  This alone got me thinking more about how serious professional piercers take piercing version the glitter and sequin franchise stores who will gladly use the gun on anyone.  Off to do more research.

Life got busy and I knew that the square footage available in tattoo and piercing shops are limited, both Sal and I wanted to be there when she got it done, and we have four kids.  This dynamic doesn’t make it easy to just walk into a place with sharp needles with a handful of  kids who have no idea how still and patient they will need to be during a procedure like this.  It would just be too stressful on everyone involved.  There is no need to make the people getting and giving piercing and tattoos nervous with needles in their hands with kids running in the shop.  So we opted for a better time when it didn’t feel like having to herd cats into a bag while we did this.

Aurelia turned nine last month and this is the first time we’ve had an opportunity to do this since then due to the current status of our six and four year old staying at grandma’s house in San Antonio.  We only have two children right now to manage in a tattoo shop.  Way easier.

Walking into the tattoo and piercing parlor

Walking into the tattoo and piercing parlor

I was now charged with finding a place that would pierce a minor.  I did a quick google search and found reviews from places that said they pierced minors.  I called a few and some flat out said no despite reviewers saying they did, some said the minor needed to be at least 13 for an earlobe piercing, and a very select few said they’d pierce a minor’s earlobes and only with a birth certification and parent IDs verifying she was our child.  We brought the necessary requirements.  Aurelia was super excited about this.  All she could seem to say was, “FINALLY!!”

Getting cleaned and marked for where the piercings will go.

Getting cleaned and marked for where the piercings will go.

Working with sterile equipment.

Working with sterile equipment.

Pierced.

Pierced.

Cleaned again.

Cleaned again.

Admiring her ears.

Admiring her ears.

A daddy moment.

A daddy moment.

Photo op with the piercer.

Photo op with the piercer.

And a lollipop!

And a lollipop!

We are on week two of caring for the piercing and she seems to be managing the cleaning three times a day just fine by herself.  The piercings look good and uninfected.  There is a salt water cleaning regimen that is done and I added some essential oils and a carrier oil to aid in the turning and further cleaning of the area.  Aurelia said that the oils help her turn the posts without pain versus turning them without the oils.

All is well.  She is very happy with her choice to get her ears pierced and looks forward to putting other earrings in her ears once the surgical steel ones can be removed after the completion of the healing process.  For her, age nine seemed to be a good age to do this.  She is at the stage of needing me less for hygiene and starting to care for herself more.   Her path may have been a little different than the norm, but nine years later, this baby girl has her ears pierced!

Family Pictures 2014

I totally intended on posting this around Christmastime but….  Oh hell, it just wasn’t a priority with all the other things going on that involve being an unschooling family of six around the holidays…and maybe because the nightmare I have to relive every time I look at these images.  2014 Family Picture session was something the Lopez children really didn’t want to be apart of and it’s evident in the photos.

We had our family pictures taken in an urban area.  I thought the area was pretty cool.  The photographer was great and the setting had personality.  For some reason 100% of Lopez children couldn’t be persuaded to fully participate in the session and just look happy for the split second that the shutter was pressed.   Eh, I can’t blame them though.  Children don’t understand the expectations Mom and Dad had in their head and the money dropped on family portraits.

If you’ve ever participated in a family photo session as a parent you know how NOT easy it is to prepare, plan, get ready, drive to location, and take pictures without losing your shit or crying or both.  There’s a significant amount of stress involved in a family photo session.  And if I’m the only one who feels this way I must be doing something wrong.  Sometimes the only thing that keeps me going is the deposit I already paid.

As you look/laugh/criticize/judge our 2014 family pictures remember that the images we received were the best ones out of the bunch.  We’ve used this photographer multiple times and she is wonderful.  I recommend her to friends and family and have always had beautiful images and these images are still beautiful in their own right but this was probably by far our worst family photo session ever or at least the one I walked away knowing the photographer wasn’t going to have many *good* images to choose from.  A photographer isn’t a magician and kids are kids.

By the end of the session I wanted to cry and scream.  Cry because of the expectation I had and knowing I shouldn’t force kids to take pictures but also because I wanted these images so badly.  I’m always taking pictures of them and rarely get to be in one, and of course there is always the money spent.

Can't really tell that behind those smiles that Mom and Dad were weeping behind those smiles because the session wasn't at all panning out like we had hoped.

Can’t really tell that behind those smiles that Mom and Dad were weeping because the session wasn’t at all panning out like we had hoped.  This image was taken at the end.  Our kids were running around the photographer and her expensive equipment and playing really close to the street. 

Rarely do I get a picture of me with my kids.  I suppose  this is reality though.  Eh.

Rarely do I get a picture of me with my kids. I suppose this is reality though. Eh.

In this split second, Keira was willing to stand by me, not dart out into the street, pick a fight with another sister, and take a picture.

In this split second, Keira was willing to stand by me, not dart out into the street, pick a fight with another sister, and take a picture.

The best family shot and I have a double chin.   Gah!  Again, we were wrestling the kids just to stay in the frame so you take what you can get.

The best family shot and I have a double chin.  Pretty sure weight loss reps will be advertising to me now.  Gah! Again, we were wrestling the kids just to stay in the frame so you take what you can get.

This was supposed to be all 4 girls standing against that wall.  Nope.  Not gonna happen.

This was supposed to be all 4 girls standing against that wall. Nope. Not gonna happen.

Yup.  The best one from this location.

Yup. The best one from this location.

Aurelia, age 9.

Aurelia, age 9.

It took an act of congress to even get this shot.  Most looked like the image that follows.

Lucia, age 6.  It took an act of congress to even get this shot. Most looked like the image that follows.

Yup.  She was NOT happy about this photo session.

Yup. She was NOT happy about this photo session.

Keira, age 4.

Keira, age 4 and being 4.  

Elisha, age 2.  2 year olds do NOT take direction whatsoever.  Eh, but they are usually always cute not matter what they are doing.

Elisha, age 2. 2 year olds do NOT take direction whatsoever. Eh, but they are usually always cute not matter what they are doing.

So, yeah this obviously was a test to my inner control freak.  I cannot even pretend we are a picture perfect family even if I tried.  Good thing we aren’t celebrities or royalty.  Yikes!  The expectation to have immaculate family portraits would be much greater.  We are just a typical family with a bunch of kids whose dynamic is chaotic and unpredictable.   Since we don’t use duct tape or shock collars on our children to coerce them to act like those families on magazine covers my expectation should match reality and the reality is what you saw above.

I supposed Lopez Family Pictures 2015 can’t get any worse, right?

Aurelia is 9!

The day that changed my life.  December 5, 2005.

I am not the same person I was back then.  Aurelia changed my life for the better.  It’s been 9 years since I became a mother for the first time.  She started it all (and somehow convinced me I was capable of having three more after her!).

Aurelia at 5 months old

Aurelia at 5 months old

I remember that cold Chicago day.   I wasn’t due with her for another 4 weeks.  I was in denial I was in labor.  Surely contractions 4 minutes part and 2 minutes long were braxton hicks; surely!

The past nine years have been transformational.  In some ways she’s exactly like me and in other ways she’s completely different from me.  We have days where we see eye to eye and other days where we clash.  She pushes me to be a better mom and just overall better person.

Aurelia at 8 months

Aurelia at 8 months

Aurelia has such an incredibly loving heart.  She has this ability to be calm and extremely patient with her younger sisters.  She wants everyone to get along.

She is a 9 year old and loves to dig in the dirt.  I think that’s awesome!  She is still naive to the mean girl thing that seems to plague our this generation of children.  I’m unsure if that is because that is just who she is or it’s because she isn’t in public school or what.

Aurelia at 18 months

Aurelia at 18 months

She comes up from behind me, closed her eyes, inhales, wraps her arms around me, and exhales.  The.  Best.  Feeling.  I melt inside when she does that.

2 years old.  Eating her birthday cake.

2 years old. Eating her birthday cake.

So much has happened in 9 years.  I’m enjoying watching her grow.  It’s all going so fast.  Nine years old.  Wow.  This is her last year in the single digits.

Aurelia 2.5 years old

Aurelia 2.5 years old

She has her personality pretty much in place.  Her brain is working and developing at an amazing rate.  She is thinking all of the time.  Sleep just isn’t a priority to her.  I am loving watching the fruits of unschooling ripen as she grows up.  She loves to learn.  She soaks up so much still.  She isn’t bored of exploring her world or learning.

Aurelia 2.5 years old

Aurelia 2.5 years old

Aurelia 3 years old

Aurelia 3 years old

Aurelia 4 years old

Aurelia 4 years old

She is still so naive about many things.  This is a good thing, in my opinion.  She is enjoying being a kid.  That is what I wanted for her; to be a kid as long as possible.  To play in the dirt.  To explore her world.  To try things.  To be excited about life.  It’s absolutely the coolest thing in the world to watch it all come to fruition.

Aurelia almost 5

Aurelia almost 5

Aurelia 6 years old

Aurelia 6 years old

Aurelia 7 years old

Aurelia 7 years old

Aurelia 8 years old

Aurelia 8 years old

Aurelia 9 years old

Aurelia 9 years old

Happy Birthday, Aurelia.  You’re an incredibly awesome person.  I love hanging out with you, listening to your new found whistling talents, your discovery of new things daily, your thoughts and opinions about the world, and your overall curiosity about everything.  I’m so glad you are in my life.

Elisha is 2!

Happy 2nd birthday, Elisha!

Elisha, age 2

Elisha, age 2

I type this as my two year old is being, well, a two year old.  She is going through my wallet, pulling out my cards, pictures, and whatnot.  Eh, it’s keeping her busy and not helping me type this post so that’s something! Plus, she’s so damn cute so I just let her.

Elisha, 18mos

Elisha, 18mos

 

Elisha, age 1

Elisha, age 1

The past two years of having her in our family has been pretty awesome; an adventure for sure.  Her sisters really do enjoy having her around.  I think they will be in for more surprises this next year of her life when she starts messing with their toys more so we will see how the fondness for their toddler sister adjusts.

Elisha, age 1 napping

Elisha, age 1 napping

Elisha is generally a happy toddler.  She is up for whatever her sisters are doing.  Since she’s the fourth kid, she is toted around everywhere we go.  She’s portable.  Got a baby carrier?  Toddler will back carry just fine whilst I am handling the other three kids.  She isn’t used to being around other kids her age very much at all.  She’d rather be with the older kids and her sisters.  When she goes outside she seems to know where the boundaries are for street play.  She observes the older children in the neighborhood and really soaks in all the do.  She wants to be a part of everything.

Elisha 16 mos

Elisha 16 mos

She is an early to rise type of kid right now.  She usually wakes up around 5am and wants to nurse.  I might get her to stay in bed until 6am but I rarely am able to go back to sleep.  Once she is up she is hunting the house for her sisters and is ready to play!  She’s been slowly shifting her daily nap.  Some of that might be her age but some might be because we are on the go a lot being an unschooling family and she car naps.  She doesn’t transfer well so if she gets a twenty minute car nap she is awake until she goes to sleep around 7-8pm.  Oh and she’s getting more teeth!  I think the 2 year molars are just under the gums.

Me and Elisha at about 9 months old.

Me and Elisha at about 9 months old.

So far she enjoys posing for me when I get out my camera.  If I ask her to go stand somewhere so I can take a picture we will and look at me and cheese it up!  She seems to have figured out bodily noises and loves to laugh at hers!

Elisha, 6 months old

Elisha, 6 months old

The girl loves to eat.  She will eat lots of food, be the first one at the table, and begs for food at the stove while I’m cooking it.  She also enjoys shopping for food.  She recognizes foods we buy and goes right for them and if she can reach them she will grab them for me to buy.

Elisha, 3 mos

Elisha, 3 mos

I am really enjoying her.  Really really enjoying her.  I think it has to do with my maturity level in combination with a been there done that mother.  That and I haven’t gotten myself knocked up again so my hormones aren’t making giant shifts resulting in me being horribly exhausted and emotional.  It’s a lot to have a bunch of children in seven years.

Elisha, 2 months

Elisha, 2 months

Elisha has the best giggles.  Who doesn’t love a good belly laugh from a toddler?  That smile of hers is charming.  If she wanted to down a bag of sugar and flashed me that smile and a belly laugh, I’m sure I’d cave.

Elisha, 1 month

Elisha, 1 month

She is at the beginning stages of the slow toddler to early childhood physical detachment from me.  She is able to be with other adults more and more.  She needs physical reassurance from me less than she did at age one.  Having been there done that it is interesting for me to observe the slow transition especially as an attachment based parent.  A sign that she is ready to detach a little is when I try to give her hugs and kisses and she tries to bite my face like a rabid dog.

Elisha and Daddy, 1 month

Elisha and Daddy, 1 month

Elisha, born at home in the water.

Elisha, born at home in the water.

Newborn assessment on our bed.

Newborn assessment on our bed.

Getting weighed in the wee hours of the morning at home.

Getting weighed in the wee hours of the morning at home.

Then of course she belts out a full-bellied giggle and I let her do it again!  When will I learn??

Checking each other out in the herbal bath.

Checking each other out in the herbal bath.

Our baby girl, Elisha on the night (or rather really early morning) she was born.

Our baby girl, Elisha on the night (or rather really early morning) she was born.

Happy 2nd Birthday, Elisha Badisha!

Surrender to the Rhythm

Fall is rolling through like a dump truck driving through a nitro glycerin plant! (Christmas Vacation reference for all you Griswold fans.)

I just opened up my blog and realized I haven’t tended to it since the end of September. Eh. Life happens.

Pretty much the whole month of October Keira (age 4) spent in San Antonio with Mimi and Papa. I’m sure that makes me sound like an awful mother to have one of my children spend four weeks away from home. I can say it wasn’t torture for her. She loves being with Mimi and Papa. She really needed some one on one attention from an adult figure in her life. I had a friend with five kids tell once that sometimes you can’t do, be, and experience everything with your children (especially when you have a bunch of kids). Although I want to be the one to give her one hundred percent of my attention all of the time and be able to give her that one on one times, it’s just not possible right now.

During the month of October I also started trying to figure out a direction I wanted to go or a focus I wanted to have. I’ve struggled with this for awhile.  While my world is pretty busy with unschooling four kids I do feel a push to give in a capacity I’ve not been able to in awhile; well, really since I was a teacher.  There was fulfillment in my soul when I taught teenagers.  The urge to serve and truly give of myself is just a part of who I am.  I’m unable to go back to something full time and still unschool my kids with the way our lives are right now. I’ve tossed around a few options and really thought about what I am passionate about. There are a lot of things I am passionate about but I also have to take into consideration how my choices will affect my family, fulfill my need to serve, and maintain my personal code of morals and ethics.

I really enjoy being a part of the birth world. I enjoy being present and encouraging new moms, friends, family, etc. through this huge change in their lives.  It’s healing to me and hopefully of some benefit to the woman.  I feel that if I’m able to help and give to new moms in ways that I did and did not receive when I was a new mom, I may help them discover their strength and also prevent some of the unpleasantries I experienced as a new mom.  There is something powerful and transformative about being a woman, about pregnancy, birth, and about becoming a mother.

Quotation-Madeleine-L-Engle-darkness-dancing-Meetville-Quotes-34312

I’ve learned so much over the years of birthing four children myself, having a miscarriage, being around birth, lots of reading and research, watching the highs and lows, learning what I can and cannot say or do, when it’s appropriate to insert myself, when to back off, and when to just toss my knowledge aside and just be present in a women’s journey even when it isn’t what I would choose.  I’ve learned so much about freedom of choice and the way that is right for me may not be right for someone else. My ego has been shattered enough with friends and family by my well-meaning intentions and my knowledge of birth that I may have just enough wisdom to do good without judgment.  I’m not saying I still won’t open my mouth and insert my foot but I’m hoping that these incidences of stupidity will be less as time goes on. I also file this stuff under “Reasons I like myself better in my 30’s than my 20’s.”

It’s called wisdom.  I’m gaining that like I gained weight in my pregnancies.

I see the parallels between art and birth.  Sometimes birth is the first time a woman has truly experienced art because she is the artist.

I’m comfortable in my knowledge in the areas of pregnancy, birth, natural parenting, alternative medicine, real food, unschooling, and dance. I’ve also learned a great deal about photography but I file that under dance as well because it’s all art. Art, birth, and being human. All of this has molded me into, well, me.

The struggle now is to figure out what I want to do with the knowledge and experience I have while also thinking about my family and knowing my limitations.

I’ve begun the process of getting certified to become a natural childbirth educator. The reading, research, getting connected with resources, and just figuring it all out has taken a lot of my time. There’s so much that goes into this. It’s a lot. I am enjoying it. My mind is sorting through it all. It’s a process.

I’ve a had a few moments where I’ve felt that cold fear creep up my spine and wondered if I made a huge mistake diving into this. Gah. I hope this isn’t a giant f*ck up. I think that comes with the territory of putting yourself out there. Risk. Risking financially, risking failure, risking rejection. That voice in my head that constantly says I’m not good enough.

Much like birth, I’m riding the wave where it’ll take me and trusting in the process.  I must surrender to the rhythm that is this journey.

Free as a Bird

“Some birds are not meant to be caged, that’s all. Their feathers are too bright, their songs too sweet and wild.

So you let them go, or when you open the cage to feed them they somehow fly out past you.

And the part of you that knows it was wrong to imprison them in the first place rejoices, but still, the place where you live is that much more drab and empty for their departure.”

― Stephen King, Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption: A Story from Different Seasons

The girls wake up between 6:30am-7:00am every morning even though they are unschooled.  I say “even though” because unschoolers stereotypically wake up later.  I make a cup of hot tea, put a cardigan over my pajamas (because I’m too lazy to strap on a bra that early), and walk out there with them as they wait and play with a friend who does attend school to catch the bus.

On a recent morning the girls discovered a bird’s nest in a tree.  It was on a branch low enough that I could lift each of them up and they could look in.  I ended up taking some pictures of the birds in a very wobbly step stool in which the girls not-so-confidentally told me that were holding stable for me to get the pictures.

nestlings
Over the next few days we checked on them every morning.  They started growing their feathers and one day they were gone from their nest.  The girls were sad.  They wanted them to be there forever, I suppose.

SONY DSC

Of course I tried to explain why the birds need to leave the nest and even tried to prepare them for what would be happening a few days before the birds left the nest.

SONY DSC

On the first day they saw them they wanted to keep them as pets.  I explained that capturing wild birds, especially nestlings, would most likely end in their demise.  Letting them grow and develop naturally was the preferred method here.  It was then suggested to me that we could use our blender to puree food to feed to the birds.  Problem solved.  The baby birds just needed food and they’d be good to go.

SONY DSC

Except all living things need more than just food and water to thrive.

Drawing parallels between the baby birds and the way we are allowing our children to develop as naturally as possible were obvious.

Our goal is to let them leave the nest when they are ready.  We don’t want to kick them out prematurely, before they have their wings and can fly.  We also don’t want to force them to stay or be caged up.  It’s a bit of time before we will be entering that phase of parenting.  It’s worth taking time to think about after all the thing I hear from all the parents who’ve come before me is that it all goes so fast.  The days are long but the years are short.

I hope when we are in those years with each of the girls I can look back and remember these baby birds in their nest.  They were so helpless in the beginning.  Over time they grew wings until one day they just flew off.